I Say It’s Not A Sport, And To Heck With It

Mark Steyn, loyal Great White Northian, lambasted the Olympics yesterday. Stick a fork in them–they’re done.

This apparently is why pairs skating is big business: The audience projects its own romantic fancies on to the couples, no matter how fantastical it might be, especially in the case of some of those ice-dancing chaps. It’s hard to imbue any other Olympic sport with affairs of the heart. Few of us watch the two-man luge and coo, “Oh, it’s so romantic! Look at how the top guy arches his back to avoid crushing the bottom guy’s nuts! It’s obvious they’re in love!”

and

I thought in the men’s competition Tim Goebel’s “American In Paris” routine was tops, but the judges hammered him in the “presentation” marks. By “presentation,” it seems they resented the way he didn’t flounce around twirling his arms and waggling his hips. The experts argue that the public doesn’t understand the “technical” considerations, but in this instance the technical considerations boil down to mandatory screaming campness: You don’t stand a chance unless you queen about like some bitch waiter at Miami Beach enraged at being told to hold the curly endive.

I Say It’s Not A Sport, And To Heck With It

Mark Steyn, loyal Great White Northian, lambasted the Olympics yesterday. Stick a fork in them–they’re done.

This apparently is why pairs skating is big business: The audience projects its own romantic fancies on to the couples, no matter how fantastical it might be, especially in the case of some of those ice-dancing chaps. It’s hard to imbue any other Olympic sport with affairs of the heart. Few of us watch the two-man luge and coo, “Oh, it’s so romantic! Look at how the top guy arches his back to avoid crushing the bottom guy’s nuts! It’s obvious they’re in love!”

and

I thought in the men’s competition Tim Goebel’s “American In Paris” routine was tops, but the judges hammered him in the “presentation” marks. By “presentation,” it seems they resented the way he didn’t flounce around twirling his arms and waggling his hips. The experts argue that the public doesn’t understand the “technical” considerations, but in this instance the technical considerations boil down to mandatory screaming campness: You don’t stand a chance unless you queen about like some bitch waiter at Miami Beach enraged at being told to hold the curly endive.

I Say It’s Not A Sport, And To Heck With It

Mark Steyn, loyal Great White Northian, lambasted the Olympics yesterday. Stick a fork in them–they’re done.

This apparently is why pairs skating is big business: The audience projects its own romantic fancies on to the couples, no matter how fantastical it might be, especially in the case of some of those ice-dancing chaps. It’s hard to imbue any other Olympic sport with affairs of the heart. Few of us watch the two-man luge and coo, “Oh, it’s so romantic! Look at how the top guy arches his back to avoid crushing the bottom guy’s nuts! It’s obvious they’re in love!”

and

I thought in the men’s competition Tim Goebel’s “American In Paris” routine was tops, but the judges hammered him in the “presentation” marks. By “presentation,” it seems they resented the way he didn’t flounce around twirling his arms and waggling his hips. The experts argue that the public doesn’t understand the “technical” considerations, but in this instance the technical considerations boil down to mandatory screaming campness: You don’t stand a chance unless you queen about like some bitch waiter at Miami Beach enraged at being told to hold the curly endive.

No Wonder Slobo Likes It

Here’s one for the utterly absurd file. A Manila man was shot to death for mocking another man’s karaoke rendition of “My Way.”

Newspapers have said Philippine karaoke parlors have been removing “My Way” from play lists because fights frequently broke out–for unfathomable reasons–when the song was sung.

The song seems to drive many drunken men to commit anything from slight physical injuries to homicide, reports said.

More Wrong Stuff

According to Financial Times, NASA is poised to become a management consultant.

That’s right–NASA. You know, the agency that currently has an overrun of five billion dollars and counting on the International Space Station?

Nasa has teamed up with AT Kearney, the international consulting firm, to encourage manufacturers to adopt the sort of project management used for shuttle missions or space walks.

Would those be the Shuttle missions that cost between five hundred million and a billion dollars each?

I’d like to find out who the clients are going to be so I can short them. Maybe I’ll start with some puts on AT Kearney…

The Wrong Stuff

The “historical” space program happened primarily in the 1960s and early 1970s, ending when Gene Cernan stepped back into the LEM and became the last man to depart the Moon, for decades, with no clear prospects for any return of humanity to that currently-barren orb. Since then, in many ways (and in my opinion, of course), we have retrogressed, at least as far as government space activities are concerned.

So all through the nineties, we celebrated (if that’s the right word) thirtieth anniversaries (and we have the thirtieth anniversary of that most ignominious event mentioned above coming late this year, on December 19). Now, in the twenty-first century, we will be commemorating fortieth space anniversaries.

Forty years ago today, John Glenn was the first American to orbit the earth. He wasn’t the first man–that honor went to Yuri Gagarin, a Russian. Veteran space reporter Leonard David uses the anniversary to write a good, balanced piece on where we’ve been in space, and where we may be going.

The paradigm is shifting slowly, from space as Government Enterprise for those with the Right Stuff, to an inclusive industry that welcomes the public, not as vicarious bystanders and mere providers of the purse, but as active participants.

A personal view of [Derek] Webber [of Futron, a Bethesda-based consultancy] is that, before John Glenn is 90, ten years from now at the 50th anniversary of his Mercury capsule flight, two distinct kinds of space tourism will be happening…

First, the very rich will be following in the space boots of Glenn himself, as well as millionaire pay-per-view space travelers, Dennis Tito and soon-to-fly Mark Shuttleworth. A new kind of spaceflight will emerge too. Sub-orbital flights can provide once-in-a-lifetime experiences for public space travelers, Webber said…

…”Instead of cheering encouragement from the sands of Cocoa Beach, Florida, as they did when Friendship 7 had its flight, the American public will soon get their chance to share the experience of spaceflight. Simultaneously, they’ll create new business opportunities that will in themselves help to sustain the whole launch vehicle business for the foreseeable future,” Webber concluded.

There are some pessimists interviewed as well, but in my opinion, their pessimism is an outgrowth of their own failed experiences with government space programs.

I should add that I heard an interview with Senator Glenn on Fox this morning, in which he was asked about space tourism. It’s going to happen, he says, but not for a long time, and not as soon as some say. He continues to promulgate the myth that our space program is about science, and that his Shuttle flight a few years ago was of scientific value, and not (as it appeared to many, including me, even if it may not be reality–we’ll probably never know for sure) a political payoff for running interference for the Administration in Congressional hearings in Chinagate and other matters.

I think that his flight forty years ago was the high-water mark in his career, and his corrupt Senatorial activities (including being part of the Clinton spin team, and one of the Keating Five) a low.

Certainly, there is no sense that the Senator wants to see space tourism happen any time soon, and when it comes to making it happen, he’s not only not helped–he’s obstructed.

But that’s not necessarily surprising. After all, when just anyone can go, it takes the luster off of fellows like him.

You know, the ones with the “Right Stuff.”

Ministry Of Silly Milestones

I’m not one that pays much attention to my hit count, at least not in any precise way, though I do keep half an eye on day-to-day trends. After all, I don’t have a Natalija, and despite Kathy Kinsley’s entreaties, I don’t think she really wants to see the likes of me. Hits, files, and visits all seem too nebulous to take them seriously as precision indicators of anything. Many people stumble in here by accident from a weird google search, and no doubt back slowly out of the site with hands held tremulously over eyes. Others are probably robots.

Some, however, seem to almost obsess over it, and apparently there’s some deep itch in the human psyche that requires the recording of particularly ticks of the web site (and other types) of odometer.

I once had a friend (well, actually, I have him still, but I won’t name him to protect the guilty) who had a car about to turn over a hundred thousand miles (this was back in the days when this was a significant automotive feat, particularly for American cars). He started carrying a camera around with him so that he could catch the odometer in the act as it slowly whirled all the goose eggs. One morning, as he drove into the parking lot at work, it was almost there, so he actually continued to cruise around the parking lot for several minutes, so that he could be sure to capture the moment for posterity and his progeny, lest he forget it later in the frenetic haste to get home after a busy day at work.

Now forget about the historical contingency of the situation, the fact that if we had evolved with eight digits instead of ten, that he would have been breathlessly awaiting his 32,768th mile (though in base 8, it still would have read 100,000, and happened three times as often, and been much less of a mark of mechanical longevity). There was a man dedicated to numbers.

Over at Libertarian Samizdata, as I type these words, they are moving up on (they suppose, in whatever way these things are counted), their 100,000th visitor (current count–99,6…well, I can’t say what the current count is, because SURPRISE, SURPRISE, blogspot is down again–guess they’ll have to wait a while longer). Anyway, in their odometorial excitement and upcoming ecstacy, they’ve asked their readers to keep an extra sharp eye out, and for whoever is number ten to the fifth, to please take a screenshot and send it to them.

Well, folks, hate to break it to you, but I don’t know how you’d authenticate it. I could go to LS from now until doomsday (or whenever they change their template, whichever comes first), view source, edit the counter forward or back to 100K, view page and snap. I can be the tenth of a million visitor any time I want.

So my question is, how will they know to whom to award the mythical prize? And does it really matter?

[Update at 2:24 PM PST]

I just went back and checked, and I was 100,005…

Missed it by that [holding up index finger and thumb very close together] much.

Office Of Official Falsehoods?

This article in the Paperly Formerly Known As The Paper of Record was originally brought to my attention because it refers to General Pete Worden who, as one of the primary movers behind the DC-X program, I had hoped would continue to play a major role in reformulating military space activities.

Alas, it is not to be:

The Pentagon is developing plans to provide news items, possibly even false ones, to foreign media organizations as part of a new effort to influence public sentiment and policy makers in both friendly and unfriendly countries, military officials said.

…it recently created the Office of Strategic Influence, which is proposing to broaden that mission into allied nations in the Middle East, Asia and even Western Europe. The office would assume a role traditionally led by civilian agencies, mainly the State Department.

Headed by Brig. Gen. Simon P. Worden of the Air Force, the new office has begun circulating classified proposals calling for aggressive campaigns that use not only the foreign media and the Internet, but also covert operations.

This is a little unsettling, but I can understand why it might be necessary during wartime (I just continue to wish that there were some defined parameters that could be used to determine when “wartime” is over). I believe that it was Churchill who said something like, “truth is so precious that it must be accompanied by an escort of lies.” But it will greatly complicate reporting (no doubt overtaxing many of the mental midgets currently engaged in that profession, as well as the competent ones), and may undermine American’s confidence in its own government, if not done carefully.

I’m also afraid that it will play into the hands of those of reflexive anti-American sentiments, who are legion, both here and abroad.

US War Fever Wearies Europe

That’s the tendentious title of this article from the English version of Deustche Welle. One almost imagines the poor Eurocrats wiping sweat from their weary brows at all the Yankee war mongering. Frankly, it makes me tired. Read the whole thing, but first strap on a jumbo-sized barf bag.

Taking an unexpected swipe at US President George Bush and his repeated threats against Iraq, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer has told a news magazine that he sees no evidence linking Iraq to Osama bin Laden or the September 11 terrorist attacks against the United States.

“Unexpected swipe”? To mix languages, I thought that such “swipes” had become de rigueur.

“No evidence has been presented to me that Osama bin Laden?s terror has something to do with the Iraqi regime,” Fischer told Der Spiegel.

I’ll be generous here (though not further down the post), and assume that Herr Fischer is simply confused. We have never claimed that Iraq was necessarily directly responsible for either bin Laden or 911 (though there were meetings between Iraqi security officials and al Qaeda operatives. In Germany, if you can imagine that).

Of course, before September 11, there was no country that we could claim was responsible for September 11, but if we knew then what we know now, we could have at least had a decent shot at preventing it.

That is the mode that we are in now, with respect to Iraq. Europeans seem to like prophylactics for sex–why do they object to them when it comes to terror?

Saddam has been at war with us for years, albeit ineffectively. So have the Iranians. So have the North Koreans. As have several other countries that the President didn’t mention (yet). We are simply finally recognizing that fact.

But what really bothers me is that I can’t get over the feeling that, for all the whining about capitalism and our “simplistic” approach that we get from some of these oh-so-sophisticated and subtle European elites, the real concern that they have is that if we take out some of these monstrous regimes, they’ll be losing some of their own best customers.

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